Marvel’s Influential Latinx Heroes
Marvel will soon release Marvel’s Voices: Comunidades #1, a celebration of Latinx characters and their stories. We’ll see familiar favorites like Miles Morales as well as some newer faces, such as Reptil and Nina the Conjurer, in the collection.
On the big screen, prominent Latinx actors have portrayed now famous characters, like Zoe Saldana’s Gamora and Benicio Del Toro’s the Collector. Other Marvel films have also included Latinx characters, like Sunspot in The New Mutants or Luis in the Ant-Man series. But soon, Marvel’s Latinx inclusion will expand in new ways. Oscar Isaac will star in a Moon Knight series for Disney+ and Salma Hayek will portray Ajak in Eternals. For Latinx representation both onscreen and off, Xochitl Gomez will play America Chavez in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Since 1975, Latinx characters have been making an impact on Marvel storylines. Some characters have introduced us to completely novel concepts and others must go through experiences that mirror the hardships of our own world. Here are some of the most influential Latinx figures in Marvel Comics.
Ava Ayala, White Tiger
The title of White Tiger belonged to Marvel’s first Latino super hero, Hector Ayala. His tenure as White Tiger included close alliances with Spider-Man, Iron Fist, and Shang-Chi. With the use of three amulets, he gained enhanced strength, speed, stamina, and senses. Unfortunately, his real identity was compromised, forcing him to give up being the White Tiger — though his family would still be murdered later by a criminal with a vendetta against super heroes.
Eventually, Hector’s niece, Angela del Toro, and his sister, Ava, both came into possession of the White Tiger amulets. Angela and Ava followed very different paths into the world of super heroes, with Angela becoming involved with Daredevil and the Hand (and nearly consumed by a ruthless thirst for power) while Ava currently channels the divine aspects of the White Tiger power as she fights with various Avengers teams.
America Chavez, Miss America
America Chavez hails from the Utopian Parallel, a paradise dimension beyond the constraints of the multiverse and created by the Demiurge — or wait, is that just a coping mechanism to deal with being forcibly separated from her moms and younger sister after experimental genetic treatments? Either way, America’s world is one in which she defies the patriarchy and fights for justice on her own terms.
Her powers not only grant her flight, speed, strength, and invulnerability, but she can also construct star portals for interdimensional travel across the multiverse. America is a leader wherever she goes, first serving with the Teen Brigade, then the Young Avengers and most recently the Ultimates. With the Young Avengers, America kept a close eye on Kid Loki while forming tight bonds with her other teammates like Kate Bishop, Wiccan, Hulkling, and Noh-Varr (AKA Marvel Boy).
Robbie Reyes, Ghost Rider
Growing up in East Los Angeles, Robbie Reyes just wanted to avoid the gangs in his neighborhood and look out for his little brother, Gabe. In order to move to a new place, he enters a street race for some money — without knowing that the car he drives is possessed by an evil spirit. Soon Robbie becomes the new Ghost Rider, as the vengeful spirit Eli guides him and grants him the same infernal powers as the Ghost Riders before him.
Eventually it’s revealed that Eli is actually Robbie’s uncle who was a serial killer (and not actually a Spirit of Vengeance). With the help of Johnny Blaze, Robbie overcomes Eli’s influence and Robbie becomes a valued member of the Avengers. He does battle alongside She-Hulk against a Dark Celestial and even charges an Avengers Quinjet with his hellish power. Robbie Reyes also appears in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., portrayed by actor Gabriel Luna.
Julio Richter, Rictor
Julio’s early life was filled with crime and loss. His family ran an arms-dealing syndicate and during a deal gone awry, Julio had to see his father’s murder at the hands of Stryfe. When his mutant powers manifested, Julio’s lack of control resulted in the decimation of multiple city blocks and they also caught the attention of an extremist anti-mutant organization.
After being saved by X-Factor, Julio joined the team as Rictor. In addition to manipulating seismic energy, Rictor’s powers give him a geokinetic connection to the Earth, allowing for control of plant life, magma, and earth itself. Later, Rictor would join other teams such as the X-Terminators, the New Mutants, Excalibur, and X-Force. With X-Force, Rictor met Shatterstar and they fell in love. In 2009 they would share the first kiss between two mainstream male super heroes to be featured in a Marvel comic panel.
Fabio Medina, Egg
Like many other people before him, Fabio was initially reluctant to join the world of super heroes and crimefighting, especially since he entered at a tumultuous point in X-Men history. The mutant team had just concluded their war against the Avengers and then suddenly Fabio and his teammates were swept by Dormammu into Limbo. He left the team after that episode but soon lost control of his powers again and was apprehended by S.H.I.E.L.D, only to be rescued once more by Cyclops’ X-Men.
Fabio learned to appreciate his mutant ability to generate spheres from his body when he was able to help defeat the Blockbuster Sentinel, during which he coined his catchphrase “GOLDBALLS!” and earned a codename. Later, his codename would switch to Egg when the true nature of his abilities was discovered on Krakoa. His golden spheres were actually organic, infertile eggs that became part of the resurrection process carried out by The Five, enabling key mutants to return from the dead.
Anya Corazón, Spider-Girl
After getting mixed up in a centuries-old dispute between two mysterious societies, Anya is injured and must be saved by a mystical spell. From that spell, she also receives a spider tattoo. This tattoo soon grants her a powerful exoskeleton and she begins working for the Spider-Society to hunt down the Sisterhood of the Wasp as a hero named Araña.
Over time, Araña loses her spider tattoo and must work as a hero without powers. She informally trains alongside Carol Danvers before gradually regaining her superhuman spider physiology. She also inherits a new suit from Julia Carpenter (the new Madame Web) and is given the name Spider-Girl by Jessica Drew (Spider-Woman). Sadly, her father is killed during an accident with the Red Hulk, and Anya must take down a covert terrorist organization. Most recently, she has been working closely with Natasha Romanoff, Yelena Belova, and Kate Bishop.
Miles Morales, Spider-Man
One of the more well known Latinx characters of the MCU and Marvel comics is Miles Morales. In the comics, after he’s bitten by an enhanced spider that escapes from his uncle’s bag, he avoids any heroics until the death of Peter Parker compels him to become Spider-Man. Despite his young age, Miles proves to be more than worthy of continuing the wall-crawling legacy.
The biggest impact of this Afro-Latino hero actually comes from his big screen debut in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Though the concept of shared universes and crossover dimensions was far from new to seasoned comic book readers, this Miles Morales-fronted film helped bring the word “multiverse” into the common language of MCU audiences. The entangled web of plots helped establish familiarity so that we’re ready to embrace the inevitable chaos of the multiverse in upcoming Phase Four films like Spider-Man: No Way Home.
On the pages of Marvel comics, Latinx characters have always filled a wide range of roles — heroes, villains, vigilantes, and trusted allies. Within the MCU, Latinx characters, like Scott Lang’s pal Luis, have mostly been used for comic relief or Latinx actors have only portrayed figures with criminal pasts, like Jasper Sitwell.
Soon, however, that onscreen representation will diversify and expand to reflect the comics. Representation continues to be a vital mission in super hero media because everyone deserves to see themselves in the heroes they aspire to be like.
Who are your favorite Latinx Marvel characters? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!